The 1862 Battle of Scottsburg

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In the spring of 1862, Confederate Maj. Gen. Zachary Thomas led his veteran division on a mission to raid Federal supply depots and to disrupt enemy communications and logistics. He also hoped to draw the Federals’ attention away from the main lines, and, in doing so, open the way for the Confederates to retake most of Kentucky. One of his objectives was the sprawling Union supply depot near Scottsburg, where he hoped the local civilians would rise up and join the Confederate cause.

Defending the depot was the relatively untested Union garrison under Brig. Gen. Michael Lynn. It was a hodgepodge force, made up of various companies recruited throughout eastern Kentucky, including the Marx Guard, the MPC Rifles, the Britains Scouts, The Tim-Mee Warriors, and the Ideal Company. Lynn had a field gun, and a pair of old mortars at his disposal, but ammunition was scarce, and the nearest trained crews were at Fort Rebecca forty miles away in Ashland.

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Colonel Leroy Marks led the Confederate troops on the left, where they slammed into the Federal Marx Guard. A wild melee soon ensued, and the Rebels entered the outskirts of the depot.

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In the center, Rebel westerners hit the main Union redoubt, but a blast of canister swept away much of the front lines, and the Yankees maintained a tenuous hold as casualties mounted on both sides.

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On the extreme right of the Rebel attack, the men of the Tim-Mee company left their tents and quick-timed into position just in time to repel an attack by Lt. Col. M. P. C. Ringhand and the 62nd Arkansas.

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Major Billy Bob Crockett and the boys from Boonsborough briefly penetrated the Union line, but an overwhelming counterattack pushed them back. Crockett was captured in the wild hand-to-hand fighting, but tried to make a getaway. As Yankees pricked him with bayonets, he uttered his last words, “I’m a squealer!”

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In 1882, Col. Mel Lyssah of Dover, Ohio, received the Medal of Honor for leading the counterattack that proved pivotal at the Battle of Scottsburg during the Civil War. He was honored by a parade in his hometown, and received the key to the town from the mayor, Aidan Tristan.

For additional photos, please see this post.

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